100 books like Muir's Gambit

By Michael Frost Beckner,

Here are 100 books that Muir's Gambit fans have personally recommended if you like Muir's Gambit. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Night Soldiers

James Stejskal Author Of A Question of Time

From my list on spies by Americans who really know the score.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a military historian and an author. To get inspiration for my writing, I spent 35 years in Special Forces (as a "Green Beret") and as a CIA officer in strange places working with interesting people. I first wrote non-fiction but I needed US Government approval for everything. So, following the saying “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” I tell my tales as “faction”—stories reflecting a reality most people don’t know or understand. I write about “Us Versus Them”—stories about teamwork—and the result is The Snake Eater Chronicles. I leave it to the reader to decide where fact ends and fiction begins.

James' book list on spies by Americans who really know the score

James Stejskal Why did James love this book?

Another master, Alan Furst’s 1st novel (of 15 so far) is a great place to start. His stories are so well researched you might think you were reading a travel guide.

Filled with intricate details of the conflict between Russia and Germany as World War II begins, Khristo Stoianev is a young man recruited to work for the Russian secret service, the NKVD. From his recruitment in Bulgaria through training and successive secret missions, Khristo must survive not only the Nazis, but his own employers, who decide he too must be killed.

Furst builds both the pace and tension as Khristo fights his way across Europe trying to escape. Relentless.  

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Night Soldiers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bulgaria, 1934. A young man is murdered by the local fascists. His brother, Khristo Stoianev, is recruited into the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and sent to Spain to serve in its civil war. Warned that he is about to become a victim of Stalin's purges, Khristo flees to Paris. Night Soldiers masterfully re-creates the European world of 1934-45: the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for Eastern Europe, the last desperate gaiety of the beau monde in 1937 Paris, and guerrilla operations with the French underground in 1944. Night Soldiers is a scrupulously researched panoramic novel, a…


Book cover of Damascus Station

James Stejskal Author Of A Question of Time

From my list on spies by Americans who really know the score.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a military historian and an author. To get inspiration for my writing, I spent 35 years in Special Forces (as a "Green Beret") and as a CIA officer in strange places working with interesting people. I first wrote non-fiction but I needed US Government approval for everything. So, following the saying “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” I tell my tales as “faction”—stories reflecting a reality most people don’t know or understand. I write about “Us Versus Them”—stories about teamwork—and the result is The Snake Eater Chronicles. I leave it to the reader to decide where fact ends and fiction begins.

James' book list on spies by Americans who really know the score

James Stejskal Why did James love this book?

A newcomer to fiction, David McClosky is another “former” who infuses his storytelling with details only an insider would know.

He tells an excellent tale, diving deep into the fractured regime of Bashar al-Assad's Syria and showing what harm the nasty world of despots and the dark world of spying can wreak on souls. The story intertwines a forbidden love affair between a CIA officer and his agent with collecting intelligence on Syrian chemical weapons and Washington bureaucrats trying to decide what to do next.

It is an excellent representation of what it’s like to serve in a denied area and, having served in Damascus, I can say the scenery is accurate, the personalities are spot on, and the tradecraft is good. I’m looking forward to Moscow X.

By David McCloskey,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Damascus Station as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

CIA case officer Sam Joseph is dispatched to Paris to recruit Syrian Palace official Mariam Haddad. The two fall into a forbidden relationship, which supercharges Haddad's recruitment and creates unspeakable danger when they enter Damascus to find the man responsible for the disappearance of an American spy.

But the cat and mouse chase for the killer soon leads to a trail of high-profile assassinations and the discovery of a dark secret at the heart of the Syrian regime, bringing the pair under the all-seeing eyes of Assad's spy catcher, Ali Hassan, and his brother Rustum, the head of the feared…


Book cover of The Tears of Autumn

James Stejskal Author Of A Question of Time

From my list on spies by Americans who really know the score.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a military historian and an author. To get inspiration for my writing, I spent 35 years in Special Forces (as a "Green Beret") and as a CIA officer in strange places working with interesting people. I first wrote non-fiction but I needed US Government approval for everything. So, following the saying “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” I tell my tales as “faction”—stories reflecting a reality most people don’t know or understand. I write about “Us Versus Them”—stories about teamwork—and the result is The Snake Eater Chronicles. I leave it to the reader to decide where fact ends and fiction begins.

James' book list on spies by Americans who really know the score

James Stejskal Why did James love this book?

I love McCarry’s books because not only are they true to the genre, they are historically accurate (and often quite humorous).

Moreover, his spy “tradecraft” works because he was a deep-cover CIA officer—the ones who get shot if they’re caught. His characters are realistic, not supermen—they have feelings, fears, and families—and they struggle against enormous odds.

In Tears of Autumn, American spy Paul Christopher believes he knows who assassinated JFK, a theory that pits him against a Vietnamese family seeking revenge for the death of its patriarch, as well as his bosses in the CIA. To survive, Christopher must stay one step ahead of all of them in this totally plausible tale of political intrigue. 

By Charles McCarry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tears of Autumn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A re-release of the best-selling thriller originally published twenty years ago finds influential secret agent Paul Christopher pursuing a dangerous theory about the assassination of JFK, an investigation that threatens American foreign policy. By the author of Old Boys. 20,000 first printing.


Book cover of The Berlin Exchange

James Stejskal Author Of A Question of Time

From my list on spies by Americans who really know the score.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a military historian and an author. To get inspiration for my writing, I spent 35 years in Special Forces (as a "Green Beret") and as a CIA officer in strange places working with interesting people. I first wrote non-fiction but I needed US Government approval for everything. So, following the saying “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” I tell my tales as “faction”—stories reflecting a reality most people don’t know or understand. I write about “Us Versus Them”—stories about teamwork—and the result is The Snake Eater Chronicles. I leave it to the reader to decide where fact ends and fiction begins.

James' book list on spies by Americans who really know the score

James Stejskal Why did James love this book?

Okay, I like almost anything that is set in Berlin because I lived and “worked” there during the Cold War, but Canon really brings it in this tightly woven story of Martin Keller, a hapless former convict who has been co-opted to work for the CIA in East Berlin.

From the first page, paranoia sets in, as it must on anyone working against the Communist regime of East Germany, when Keller embarks on his own agenda to save himself and, more importantly, the family he loves.

Kanon re-creates the tension of a divided Berlin while his well-drawn characters try to escape the clutches of a morally corrupt government. Kanon is simply one of the best.  

By Joseph Kanon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Berlin Exchange as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A modern master at work' THE TIMES
'Heart-poundingly suspenseful' WASHINGTON POST
'Joseph Kanon owns this corner of the literary landscape' LEE CHILD

Berlin. 1963. The height of the Cold War and an early morning spy swap. On one side of the trade: Martin Keller, an American physicist who once made headlines, but who then disappeared into the English prison system. Keller's most critical possession: his American passport. Keller's most ardent desire: to see his ex-wife Sabine and their young son.

But Martin has questions: who asked for him? Who negotiated the deal? Just the KGB bringing home one of its…


Book cover of High Life

Andersen Prunty Author Of Sociopaths in Love

From my list on dark fiction for aspiring sociopaths.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since reading Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in high school, I’ve always appreciated books and stories that can tackle dark subject matter in a completely deadpan way. The creator knows what they’re doing is kind of a joke and they’re inviting you along for the ride. I enjoy reading books where I think the writer had a really good time writing it, even if that means occasionally torturing the reader.

Andersen's book list on dark fiction for aspiring sociopaths

Andersen Prunty Why did Andersen love this book?

High Life is pitch black Hollywood noir. It’s one of those rare books that starts out dark and just keeps getting darker and more disturbing. Stokoe outdoes himself on nearly every page. This book was shocking and eye-opening, even for me. I’ve read a lot of extreme horror and I think this might outdo nearly all of them. Stokoe manages to fully flesh out the characters, rendering them terrifying, absurd, and profoundly sad, and does so with a style that is compulsively readable.

By Matthew Stokoe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked High Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hollywood. The City of Dreams at the end of the nineties. Jack has one ambition – to get famous. He doesn’t care how. He just wants to be like the people he sees in tabloid magazines and on TV: Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Tom and Nicole, Arnie, Bruce, Sly.... But the desire for fame has a dark side and he finds himself in a world of drugs and crime, whores, snuff shows, incest, deceit and despair. When his wife is found dead – murdered and disemboweled – and the search for her killer leads him to the femme fatale of…


Book cover of Fight Club

PJ Caldas Author Of The Girl from Wudang: A Novel About Artificial Intelligence, Martial Arts and Immortality

From my list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a nerd who fights. Started my professional life as a programmer, then switched to telling stories in advertising and entertainment. But my passion for technology and martial arts have always played a role in my life. Influenced by my father’s stories about judo, I studied a lot of styles of fighting, including kung fu, karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and also dabbled with boxing, Muay Thai, capoeira, taichi, bagua, Silat, and judo. Along that journey, one of my favorite ways to learn was by watching my female training partners, and how they had to develop a much more nuanced and sophisticated technique. An experience that would later inspire the birth of The Girl from Wudang.

PJ's book list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence

PJ Caldas Why did PJ love this book?

A little confession: fighting awakens a beast inside of me.

Sometimes when I’m in a crowded place, I walk by someone, usually a bigger person, and wonder: “Can I take him down?” Other times, especially in situations of conflict and mostly in the business world, I catch myself looking at my opposition and think “I can totally crush you if I want.” 

I’m not sure Palahniuk has ever traded punches with another human being. But one thing he got right: learning to fight, especially at a place that makes you spar at every session, often creates this maddening sense of power, that can be dangerous, but is a little fun too.

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Fight Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chuck Palahniuk showed himself to be his generation's most visionary satirist in this, his first book. Fight Club's estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret after-hours boxing matches in the basements of bars. There, two men fight "as long as they have to." This is a gloriously original work that exposes the darkness at the core of our modern world.


Book cover of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

ACF Bookens Author Of Publishable By Death

From my list on mysteries about books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a book lover from in utero. My mom was an avid and very fast reader, and I grew up finding respite, insight, and understanding in the pages of books. When I went to college, I studied English, and then got a Masters in literature before going on to learn more about writing the books I loved in an MFA program. This formal education just built on what I already knew – books are my first love, my guide through life, and often, the things that save me from the darkest moments of this world.

ACF's book list on mysteries about books

ACF Bookens Why did ACF love this book?

I am a Southern woman, and I have been a part of many a book club full of Southern women. So Hendrix’s book and his spot-on but not stereotypical descriptions of the archetypes of women in these groups is what drew me in, but then, when he brings in vampires – I adore a great vampire book – I was hooked and determined to read through and find out exactly what was going on. Who is to blame? And how do we support – or not support – one another through things we don’t understand? Powerful themes in a captivating read. 

By Grady Hendrix,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This funny and fresh take on a classic tale manages to comment on gender roles, racial disparities, and white privilege all while creeping me all the way out. So good."-Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of The Other Black Girl

Now in paperback, Steel Magnolias meets Dracula in this New York Times best-selling horror novel about a women's book club that must do battle with a mysterious newcomer to their small Southern town.

Bonus features:
* Reading group guide for book clubs
* Hand-drawn map of Mt. Pleasant
* Annotated true-crime reading list by Grady Hendrix
* And more!

Patricia Campbell's life…


Book cover of Interview with the Vampire

Jennifer Blake Author Of Challenge to Honor

From my list on exploring the fascination of Old New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Early in my career, I attended a writer’s conference in southern Louisiana. During a discussion of the best-selling Louisiana-based novels of Vermont-born author Francis Parkinson Keyes, a local historian said with great ire, “That woman came down here and picked our brains for her books!” As a follower of my state’s incredible past, I immediately saw the attraction. Since then, I’ve written more than 65 historical and contemporary novels, most set in New Orleans and broader Louisiana. Hours have been spent at the famed Historic New Orleans Collection, talking to people and walking the streets of the French Quarter—and, of course, collecting a library of famous Louisiana histories.

Jennifer's book list on exploring the fascination of Old New Orleans

Jennifer Blake Why did Jennifer love this book?

No one has ever captured the darkly lush and sensual atmosphere of New Orleans quite like Anne Rice.

I am in awe of this accomplishment, even as I suspect she came to it from a dark place of her own. Born in New Orleans, she moved away for a time, married, and had a daughter. This child died young, a tragedy from which Anne never fully recovered. Returning to the city afterward, she bought a home in the historic Garden District.

There, she wrote this incredible tale with its tortured protagonist, a story imbued with the tragedy of being ever an outsider, with the fascination for death and immortality she found within herself and in the city that surrounded her. 

By Anne Rice,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Interview with the Vampire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Anne Rice, this sensuously written spellbinding classic remains 'the most successful vampire story since Bram Stoker's Dracula' (The Times)

In a darkened room a young man sits telling the macabre and eerie story of his life - the story of a vampire, gifted with eternal life, cursed with an exquisite craving for human blood.

When Interview with the Vampire was published the Washington Post said it was a 'thrilling, strikingly original work of the imagination . . . sometimes horrible, sometimes beautiful, always unforgettable'. Now, more than forty years since its release, Anne…


Book cover of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Ron Shandler Author Of Fantasy Expert

From my list on truly understanding baseball and enhancing the fun as a fan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a baseball fan since the New York Mets won the World Series in 1969. Unfortunately, I am not an athlete, so I needed to figure out how to experience the sport in my own way. That path led me to baseball analysis and fantasy and a career writing about them. I pinch myself every morning that I have been able to turn my passion into my career. 

Ron's book list on truly understanding baseball and enhancing the fun as a fan

Ron Shandler Why did Ron love this book?

As someone who plays fantasy baseball and advises others on how to win, I was fascinated by Lewis’ real-world adventure covering the Oakland Athletics.

I had dabbled in trying to uncover underutilized statistics to evaluate talent in my own writings, but Billy Beane showed how someone in the pros was able to leverage undervalued skills to stay ahead of the competition. I found it a fascinating ride, and the book has become a classic (and a movie).

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Moneyball as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball. Following the low-budget Oakland Athletics, their larger-than-life general manger, Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts, Michael Lewis has written not only "the single most influential baseball book ever" (Rob Neyer, Slate) but also what "may be the best book ever written on business" (Weekly Standard).

I wrote this book because I fell in love with a story. The story concerned a small group of undervalued professional baseball players and executives, many of whom had been rejected as unfit for the big leagues, who had turned…


Book cover of Seven Years in Tibet

Christina Dodwell Author Of Madagascar Travels

From my list on chosen by a long-term traveller and explorer.

Why am I passionate about this?

If I needed an excuse to be an explorer, I’d say it was inherited wanderlust. My grandparents moved to China in the 1920s and my grandmother became an unconventional traveller by mule in the wilds. My mother spent her childhood there. And much of her married life in West Africa, where I was born and raised. The wildest places fill me with curiosity.

Christina's book list on chosen by a long-term traveller and explorer

Christina Dodwell Why did Christina love this book?

This book opened a window into another world for me. Heinrich stopped his journey and became part of that extraordinary world as tutor and friend to the Dalai Lama. His writing of his years there created a spell of exotic mystery. That world is no longer in existence, but the city continues to be a magnet for travellers. I tried to get to Lhasa in 1984 but got arrested by Chinese police. Instead of jail, they made me write outlines 200 times that I’d turn over a leaf and not go to Lhasa. So still in search of new worlds, I went off to Yunnan’s mountain top hidden monasteries. And I treasure the memory of Heinrich’s book as an insight into a world that has gone forever.

By Heinrich Harrer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seven Years in Tibet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this vivid memoir that has sold millions of copies worldwide, Heinrich Harrer recounts his adventures as one of the first Europeans ever to enter Tibet. Harrer was traveling in India when the Second World War erupted. He was subsequently seized and imprisoned by British authorities. After several attempts, he escaped and crossed the rugged, frozen Himalayas, surviving by duping government officials and depending on the generosity of villagers for food and shelter.Harrer finally reached his ultimate destination-the Forbidden City of Lhasa-without money, or permission to be in Tibet. But Tibetan hospitality and his own curious appearance worked in Harrer?s…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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